Justice Department Plans to Reveal Legal Justification for Using Drones on American Citizens

Flight deck crew prepare to launch the Navy experimental unmanned aircraft, the X-47B, aboard the nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS Theodore Rosevelt. Flight deck crew prepare to launch the Navy experimental unmanned aircraft, the X-47B, aboard the nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS Theodore Rosevelt. Steve Helber/AP

The Justice Department plans on making public a 2011 memo detailing the legal justification for killing suspected terrorists overseas, even if they are American citizens. The release coincides with the Senate’s vote on the nomination one of the memo’s authors, David Barron, to a federal appeals court judgeship.

The legal argument has been a point of contention for years, especially since the 2011 drone strike that killed Anwar al-Awlaki. Senators said they would fight Barron’s nomination unless they could read the memo, and they were allowed to view copies in a secure room last week, according to The Washington Post. Earlier this year, a federal court ruled that drone strike documents did not have to be disclosed under FOIA requests, but that decision was overturned in late April. The Justice Department has decided not to appeal that ruling.

While Senators were able to view the unredacted memo, its public release could still take some time. Redactions are subject to court approval and officials are also requesting that the classified ruling on the case be redacted for national security reasons, as opposed to legal ones. The only info that the Justice Department wants public is Barron’s legal advice on targeted killings, not the specific intelligence also affiliated with it.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.